Snapchat is pretty much the hottest thing going these days, especially among the younger millennial crowd. The site allows users to send “Snaps”, which are pictures or videos, to their followers. These Snaps disappear after a short period of time, giving users the (somewhat false) sense that anything they do won’t last forever.
Snapchat can actually be extremely useful for your business, especially if you market to the younger crowd. In fact, 41% of U.S. residents between 18 and 34 use Snapchat every day!
But don’t think that it won’t benefit you if you market to older markets. Over half of new signups are for people who are over age 25. They may not use the site as regularly as the younger crowd, but they are there, and they are ready and willing to buy.
It is estimated that over 150,000,000 people use the app daily, and over 10 billion videos are watched each day. That’s a massive user base that you shouldn’t ignore.
Not only that, the site is actually an effective marketing tool, as well. Snapchat ads get twice the visual attention of Facebook ads, 1.5 times more attention than Instagram ads, and were 1.3 times more effective than YouTube ads.
Ready to make use of Snapchat for your business? Let’s begin.
The Basics of Snapchat
Snapchat is seen as pointless by a lot of marketers, but that’s great for the rest of us because there’s less competition. A lot of people think it can’t possibly be all that useful since Snaps disappear not long after they’re viewed, but this is one of the things that makes Snapchat so powerful.
See, sites like Instagram and Pinterest actually capture too much attention for many users. They spend too much time there, and later regret that time spent because it could have been used for something more productive.
Snapchat alleviates that by making it quicker and easier for users to make use of the site. They see content, and later it’s gone, so it’s less distracting.
Let’s take a quick look at how Snapchat works.
Users can send Snaps, which are picture or videos, to their followers. Once the Snap has been viewed, it disappears shortly after. Users can take a screenshot during that time if they want, but otherwise the content is gone.
There are also Stories that appear for 24 hours. They can be much more affective than single Snaps, however you need to have a theme for your Stories. You can’t just post a bunch of Snaps as a Story and expect people to be impressed.
For example, if you wanted to show someone how to make your favorite craft project, you could show each step with a series of Snaps. Each Snap in the Story could be a 2-minute video, with a total of 10 Snaps (20 total minutes).
The app is also remarkably easy to use. If you can take a picture, you can use Snapchat. It really is that easy.
Marketing on the app takes a bit more effort (or at least thought), but once you get the hang of it, you’ll see it quickly becomes second nature. It’s actually quite similar to Instagram, and if you’ve ever used that app, it should be even easier to pick up Snapchat.
Snapchat’s user base is relatively young, but that number is changing. About 71% of the app’s user base is between the ages of 18 and 34. From a marketer’s perspective, that’s generally a blessing since that’s usually the age range that is so profitable for marketing purposes.
Because the user base is so large, the remaining 29% of users that are not in that age range is still a very large number. With over 150,000,000 people using the app daily, there are at least 50 million or so that are over, or under, the age of 18. That’s still huge!
The number of those over 25 is also growing rapidly. Remember that more than half of new users are over 25, which means that the older audience is growing at an astonishing rate.
It’s more difficult to tell exactly how many users are female vs. male. Snapchat doesn’t make that information public. The CEO said in 2013 that about 70% of its users were women, but that number may have changed somewhat since then.
In 2015, a study at Harvard showed that about 42% of the 18-to-29-year-old females they surveyed said they used Snapchat, but only 31% of males in the same age range said they did. But that still means there are a lot of male users on the site in addition to females.
Getting started on Snapchat is quick and simple. The first thing, of course, is to download the app. You can download it for iOS or Android, so you can use it on most current devices.
You’ll have to create an account before you can use the app. You must be sure to choose the right username, because once you’ve created it, you can never change it. You should take some time to think about the username you want before you make a decision. You might use your own name, or your business name, depending on your purposes.
If you’re promoting a brand, you’ll probably want your username to be the name of your brand. But if you’re marketing services or something specifically under your name (such as your books if you’re an author), you’d probably be better off using your name.
If you’re already on Twitter, Instagram, or other services with a specific username, you’ll probably want to use that same username on Snapchat to make it as easy as possible for people to find you on Snapchat (or for Snapchat users to find you elsewhere.)
When you have selected your username and finished signing up for your account, you’ll need to find some people to follow. This is easy to do if you already have some usernames to follow, but there’s no search feature built into the app (other than finding people who live near your location), so if you don’t already know some usernames, you’ll have to look some up.
To add users, tap the ghost logo at the top of the screen. This will bring up a menu, and you can select “Add Friends”.
From there, you can add by username if you already know the usernames of those you want to add. If not, you’ll need to locate some users to follow by searching sites such as:
You can also download apps that make it easy to find friends, such as Casper, which is free on the iTunes store.
You can also add friends from your address book on your device, add them by Snapcode (which is like a QR code you can scan into the app) or use the “Add Nearby” feature, which will locate people who are in the same geographic area as you.
Finding friends is absolutely critical, because the app is absolutely useless without them. Unlike apps like Instagram and Pinterest, which make it possible to find your content with hash tags or keywords, Snapchat has no such function. Your content only gets sent to the people who follow you. If you have no followers, no one at all will see your content.
If you have a decent marketing budget, you can team up with influencers (people who have a lot of engaged followers on Snapchat) to bring in more followers by paying them to promote your page. Just be sure you have an interesting platform to get them there, because they aren’t going to follow you just because someone they like tells them to. Hold a contest or giveaway or run some sort of fun event to not only attract followers, but to get them engaged.
You should also customize your Snapcode, which is the yellow icon that looks like a ghost with dots surrounding it. When you share your Snapcode with other people so they can follow you easily, the image will appear in the center.
Take a look at the Snapcode for National Geographic:
They’ve chosen to put their logo in the center of their Snapcode. But you can also use a photo of yourself or anything else you want as long as it isn’t copyrighted material or obscene.
Here’s a good example of a photo being used, from Hootsuite’s Snapcode:
To customize your Snapcode, you just need to tap the ghost icon, then tap your Snapcode. This will allow you to create an image for the center of the ghost. It will take a video that is a couple of seconds long, so if you’re taking a picture of your logo or an existing photo, make sure you hold your phone very still while you’re taking it.
Creating A Marketing Plan
It’s vital that you create a marketing plan for Snapchat, because the very nature of the app requires you to create only the most interesting content. You’re sending your content directly to users, which can significantly increasing engagement, but in order to do that, your content must interest users and fit in with the overall feel of the app.
You should spend a little time looking at some accounts that fit in with your brand in order to get ideas of what your typical user might be interested in.
You also want to make sure that everything you post fits with your personal branding, as well as what you hope to achieve. You don’t want to be in-your-face with your marketing, because people will quickly tune you out or even unfollow you. For that reason, your content should generally be interesting and brand-building, but not necessarily promotional.
Let’s say you’re selling a product meant to cover up scars. You could create a Story that features some real users demonstrating how well the product works by filming themselves actually using the product, starting with their bare scar, and ending with the nearly invisible scar as a result of using the product.
This kind of thing is interesting, because people are surprised at how well the product works, and it will also encourage those people who have use for the product to go buy it without even asking them to!
As you create your marketing plan, you need to keep two major points in mind:
- What kind of brand image are you trying to convey? Is your brand serious or lighthearted? Is it professional or fun? Every post you make needs to adhere to your brand image.
- What is your primary goal? Is it to sell a particular product, get traffic to your online store, promote your blog, build an email list, sell books, or something else?
Everything you post must keep these two points in mind. You don’t want people to get the wrong idea about your brand, and you don’t want to post a bunch of content that isn’t going to further your primary goal, because it’s just a waste of time. Every single piece of content you post should either serve to further your brand, help you with your goal, or both.
That’s not to say everything has to be promotional. For example, if you’re a blogger who’s just looking to get more people to your blog about cooking, you might just post pictures of you eating something. This still helps build your brand, because it fits with your overall theme, and also helps people feel closer to you.
If you really want to be successful with Snapchat, it’s a good idea to emulate some of the most successful marketing campaigns that have already been done. That’s not to say you should copy them, but just to use elements in your own campaigns.
For example, bareMinerals launched a campaign called “Zit Happens” which showed women how to hide blemishes. They saw a huge response, with nearly 2 million people seeing the campaign, and 30% of those swiping up to learn more about their product, and they saw searches for their “Blemish Remedy” product double shortly after they ran the campaign!
This is exactly the kind of campaign you can learn from, because it was extremely effective, and it could be tailored to nearly any kind of goal you might have in mind.
Basically, you just demonstrate how easy/effective/cool/fun/etc. your product is and let it sell itself.
That is the best way to find campaigns that will really work—by using elements of campaigns that have already been proven to work. You could even combine elements of multiple successful campaigns in order to create your own unique spin.
A Word About Snap Ads
Snap Ads are a great way to get your campaign noticed, but they come at a price far too great for the average marketer. It’s said that ads start at $750,000 per day, and that Snapchat refuses to budge on that price. Most of us simply don’t have that kind of budget, and even if we did, we’d need the power of a very good marketing agency behind us to create a campaign powerful enough to make such an expenditure profitable.
Don’t feel bad if you can’t afford this kind of fee. In fact, many companies have created wildly successful campaigns without spending a dime, and you can do the same. You don’t need to spend money on Snapchat to be successful!
Perhaps one day in the future they will make an ad platform that will be affordable for everyone, but for now, there’s no need to even worry about it.
Snapchat’s massive user base is hard to ignore. Not only do people use the app regularly, but they’re also proven to pay attention to ads more than other similar apps’ ads.
The platform can be remarkably effective as a marketing tool if you take the time to get the hang of it and figure out what your audience is looking for.
Snapchat is not only massive in terms of the sheer size of its user base, but it’s also excellent for grabbing attention and getting actual results, unlike other platforms that often fail to capture interest.
The app is free, and it takes only moments to post content through the app. You have absolutely nothing to lose by giving the platform a try. You may just find it’s one of the most highly effective platforms you’ve ever used.
Be patient and don’t give up on it too quickly. It takes time to grow a platform of followers. Over time, you’ll see your results growing exponentially.
I wish you the best of luck!